I Am the Older Brother
Micah 6:8 says to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly. Act justly. I have a passion for justice. I seek it to a fault. If I see an injustice done it bothers me to my core and I feel the need to expose it even when it is not my place. There are times I feel regret once I fight for it. Was it my place to do that? Sometimes the answer to that is yes and sometimes the answer is no. I need to act justly. It is not always my place to hold people accountable for their lack of acting justly.
Love Mercy. I love mercy. When I think of mercy I think of someone who is struggling and needs my help. I think of those less fortunate than myself. I don’t think of people who hurt me or those I love. No, they don’t need mercy. They need to be held accountable. I don’t think of those who need me to forgive them, even when they don’t ask me to. No, they need to see how wrong they are. I think of that scene from the 80’s movie Karate Kid. The Cobra Kai Sensei is yelling from the sidelines to the boy who is fighting Daniel-son, “No mercy!”
That little voice inside says “Ummm….really Joy?”.
One of the definitions for mercy that I came upon says, mercy means compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. Mercy is so important to God yet I don’t always think of it in the way I should. It is easy for me to bestow mercy on the person who is in need and struggling. It is not easy for me to give mercy to the person who doesn’t care that they wronged me. But does the Lord say to only give mercy when it is easy and the person is begging for it?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
My husband was talking to me recently about a podcast he listened to on the prodigal son. It was really stirring in his heart and causing him to reflect on mercy. In this episode, they talk about the older son. He was resentful. He saw his little brother leave home, party his inheritance away, then come home and be accepted back by his father. The older brother never left home and worked hard the entire time as his little brother was squandering his money. In being consumed by his need for justice, he lost out on offering mercy.
Listening to this podcast episode made me realize that offering mercy is a gift. It makes us more into the people God has called us to be. It gives us an opportunity to grow, love, and have mercy bestowed back on us. It gives us a precious chance to reflect God’s character.
There is a reason this tugged at my heart and my husband’s heart. We went through a painful church hurt. One that in time I will talk about more. I only want to do it as the Lord leads me and I don’t feel I am ready quite yet. So hearing about mercy made us look at ourselves, what we went through, and challenged us in a new way.
To be honest, I never thought that justice and mercy would come into conflict with each other in my life. We walked away from a church trusting the Lord would be the one to fight for us. But as you now know, since I crave justice, this was hard for me. I wanted to make it right. It was hard to leave that in the Lord’s hands and not take it into my own. Time has past and it is still challenging. I know the Lord was telling us to be still and he would fight for us. And we have seen Him do that ten times over. It is remarkable.
Still, in life, I fight this desire to hold people accountable and fight for fair, just, and true even when the Lord is telling me to give it to Him. I have not viewed our situation through the lens of mercy. But as I do, I feel freedom. I can offer the gift of mercy.
Love mercy. Micah 7:18 says God delights in mercy. I want the older son to have mercy on his younger brother. His younger brother is repentant. Can I have mercy on people who have wronged me and are not repentant? Can I forgive and leave justice in the hands of God whatever that may look like? I want God to have mercy on me. But what about the person who acted unjustly towards me or my family?
I love seeing how God redeems things. I think something that has been so difficult for me this past year is feeling like there is no reconciliation or closure in what happened. I want an apology given to my family that I will most likely never get. How do you move on when reconciliation as you see it is not possible? Through time the Lord is showing me how to not only move on but to be free. I think mercy is a part of this.
Can we give mercy to the one who does not ask for it? Is that part of forgiving? I want to not only forgive, but also have compassion for someone when it is within my right to punish them. Mercy.
Mercy to your enemy is uncommon. It is shocking really. I want to be shockingly like God. So I am going to pursue mercy at all costs. Lord, I don’t know exactly what that looks like but help me see it the way you see it.